Peter McGlamery is a regular on this blog, and he’s currently walking the Camino. Last night he was in Pamplona.
Peter is a deft woodcarver – and before he left for his pilgrimage, he created some wood blocks so that he could make prints of the Camino emblem, the scallop shell, to give to people he met along The Way.
I asked him to explain how he did it, and why –
About the blocks… I mounted pieces of raw linoleum, glueing and clamping them to good Baltic birch plywood so that they’d be flat. I originally did this because I’d been wanting to work with block printing … This had nothing to do with hiking the Camino. Maybe I made the blocks sometime last year… At this point I had a stack of six blocks sized 8X10.
After accepting the call to hike to Santiago, naturally I thought about trail angels. Trail angels are people who show up to help hikers… On the AT, trail angels hang out at places, picnic areas, state parks, road crossings… Wherever the trail comes out of the woods and crosses the road.
But a trail angel can be anybody who picks you up, gives good energy, makes effort to be cheery, goes out of their way… shows a generosity of spirit. I think I’ve met only one individual in Pamplona who showed me that kind of light in their face… The guy who I bought a herald tribune from today…
I think I began drawing scallop shells before I thought of making prints… Then, I took a couple of blocks down to the shop, trimmed them up on the jointer and pretty much arbitrarily made several small blocks for ” ammo”.
I like using “Sharpie” indelible ink pens to draw on the blocks… Then carve around the marks… Simple and fast… There’s not much to it. I had bought water based printer’s ink for ease of clean up. The paper is a nice thick Italian paper, Fabriano, cold press… I found some in 4×4 inch sheets.
I’m carrying a box of 90 sheets… questionably heavy. I quartered those sheets by folding… I don’t like a neat edge… I prefer the deckle edge of handmade paper. I’ve had an ink roller and a banana leaf barren since I was senior in high school in S. Korea… That’s a long time… Sort of a block printing kit.
Using a pane of tempered glass for rolling out ink. I carefully roll the ink on the carved block… Apply the paper… The paper will stick to the ink… You don’t want to move it or it will smudge… And the smooth the back of the paper with the barren… The back of a big spoon makes a good barren too.
Pull your print… Let it dry… And there you have it.
I wasn’t sure about it at first, but I know how it feels to have something tangible from a friend. My friend “Bob”, one of the guys who’s picture I put high in the Pyrenees, before he died, gave me three matching ancient 6 foot bar clamps. I use them when I need to and I think about him every time. I treasure them.
I treasure Sister Marisol’s handwritten blessing which she wrote on a scrid of paper, which says “May God, who fills with his presence all the way, bless you, Peter with love. Marisol. Zabaldika”.
Bill, you give the blog… It’s very generous of you.